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Old 31st Oct 2004, 04:25 PM   #1
WorstPoolShark
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Problems with completed character model

hello, im new to this forum as well as to the art of character modeling and unreal editing, and i managed to create a fairly decent looking character mesh and was able to make it show up within the UnrealEd animations browser. (btw ive been watching the VTMs that came with the special edition.)
Anyways, when i copy mesh properties and character animations from Thundercrash in order to use them for my model, it completely screws everything up, turning the model into a sort of flattened paperclip man-thing, even though it still moves and animates correctly. I think it has to do with the skeleton i downloaded, im pretty sure that i found the correct one that was supposed to ship with the DVD, although when i import it into Maya it starts out extremely large and laying on its stomach. Otherwise, im following the instructions correctly and cant figure out how things are messing up.
Id appreciate any insight or even related experiences, i just need some input cause im totally lost.
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Old 1st Nov 2004, 05:10 PM   #2
The Helios
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I think I'm not the best to reply to you but, just to not left you with nothing, here are some tips:
-Did you build your model with Milkshape? If that is the case, you MUST be sure that you are using the same skeleton of the Thundercrash.
-Did you made it on 3dMAX? Watch out because the coordinates of rotation need to be corrected when you import a psk from there. Also, rotation is defined in URUs (a self Unreal unit).
-Is the model working with extra bones. If so, you can't copy the mesh properties because the model has another skeleton.
Sorry if those were too obvious but I think they can help you a little. Also, post pics of your work!

See you soon!
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Old 1st Nov 2004, 06:25 PM   #3
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thanks for the help, and i used MAYA PLE to build the model. honestly i do think that the skeleton is the faulty aspect here, but it doesnt have any extra bones as far as i am aware of; it looks exactly like the one the guys use in the 3Dbuzz VTMs, except that immediately after importing it starts out WAAY to huge and lying face down, whereas in the training video their skeleton starts as just a little bit bigger and in the correct upright and centered position.
Im thinking that if i describe more fully what the model ends up looking like, then you could help me more easily. When i copy mesh properties from thundercrash, which is the first step i do, my guy (who starts out standing upright) becomes extremely small and lying face down. Then, when i copy the animation set from thundercrash over to my guy, he turns into a TRIANGLE with flattened arms and legs, and a very tiny head. other than that, everything is fine with my model ... hehe

ok i just realized what you meant... and i need help finding the exact skeleton that is used for Thundercrash package.

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Old 2nd Nov 2004, 01:39 AM   #4
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Alright here are some pics of my fabulous "Rock" and how it all goes terribly wrong... damn you Wily...

Pic of my model in maya

http://img26.exs.cx/img26/923/megamanmaya.jpg

pic of extremely large skeleton just imported (lol), which i then rotate and scale to fit

http://img26.exs.cx/img26/6456/mayaskeleton.jpg

And the end result when thundercrash properties are copied over
(it starts out looking just fine)

http://img26.exs.cx/img26/8174/unrealmeshproblem.jpg


gee i wonder who else is having such a frustrating time with this...

Last edited by WorstPoolShark; 2nd Nov 2004 at 01:43 AM.
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Old 2nd Nov 2004, 06:55 AM   #5
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there are a number of situations that can cause PLE export glitches, most having to do with skin binding in Maya (use Smooth Bind), vertex weighting (use the Paint Skin Weights Tool or the Component Editor), bone names (be sure to select Underscores to Spaces in the export dialog), and having the correct skeleton (it must match the character whose Animation Set you're using).

if you're using existing mesh properties, moving the skeleton around on its axes in Maya may also have an undesirable effect -- your imported skeleton is oriented with Z vertical (as in UEd), and perhaps you shouldn't rotate it before export. i've used a skeleton-building MEL script that not only uses this axis orientation but modified the workspace specs to make it view correctly (scrooges my earlier files but it's an easy fix), and have had no probs with the process you describe (different skeleton & character, though).

if you would like i'd be willing to take a look at the PLE file and see if there's anything i can figure out.

nice model, btw. skinned yet?
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Old 2nd Nov 2004, 11:15 AM   #6
The Helios
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I have watched the model. Nice work. As the post above, do you skinned it?
Now, going back to the problem, check the bone names and don't worry if the model comes bad-rotated on UEd, as I said, you need to correct this little issue by modifying the URUs. Now, I'm not a Maya user (I use 3dMAX) so I don't know if I can help you further. But don't lose the hope because I'm always around.

EDIT NOTE: Oh, I watched the little prob... There are some solutions. You can adjust the height of the model. You MUST fit the model in the skeleton so the movements can be clear. Also, check the name of the bones and make sure that there are no orphan vertices, faces or other thingies around.
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Old 3rd Nov 2004, 02:34 AM   #7
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A note on scale. Make absolutely sure that you set your default unit in your maya prefs to centimeters. otherwise it will turn out super huge or super small. In the former case applying the mesh properties and animation set to it will totally screw up the model into a mess of distorted polygons like what you have there. Why I don't fully know, but I assume/immagine it has to do with the scaling factor of the imported mesh being so small (like less than .01) compared to its target properties. I ran into this with a model I was working on a while back. Altering its scale in maya prior to import solved the issue.

When you import or generate a skeleton it simply uses a unit number to position and scale the joints. if your current unit setting is different than the unit setting used to make the skeleton/script then the scale factor alters by 100times in one direction or the other. This also applies to locators and IK handles and just about everything in maya. All objects inherit the unit system they were created in, even if its in the same file. I ran into this in a model I have recently animated. Made proper scripting terribly annoying.
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Old 3rd Nov 2004, 12:40 PM   #8
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Thanks to everyone for the helpful posts, im going to try everything suggested. But firstly, Vailias, how would i change the default unit in Maya? im searching around right now but cant find where i can set it. thanks
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Old 3rd Nov 2004, 03:14 PM   #9
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Oh, let's wait for Vailias answer. In the meantime, there is an option I encounter on UeD, the "Assume Maya Coordinates", when you import the mesh from Maya. I think that can help you too. Good luck.
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Old 3rd Nov 2004, 11:35 PM   #10
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The Helios: Assume Maya Coordinants simply imports the model assuming that its Y coordinants should be Z, since maya defaults to a Y up coordinant system

WorstPoolShark: The unit setting is found in window->settings/preferences->preferences
Settings category

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Old 4th Nov 2004, 08:10 AM   #11
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I see. Well I really didn't know what that option makes since I use 3dMax. Thanks for clearing up that.
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Old 4th Nov 2004, 08:07 PM   #12
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Alright ive got an idea. Can anyone who has actually gone through the entire character creation/importing and playing process please describe what you do to get things running? for example, describe how exactly you bind the skeleton, which skeleton (filename) you use, and how you set things up in UnrealEd. thanks!
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Old 5th Nov 2004, 07:04 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WorstPoolShark
Alright ive got an idea. Can anyone who has actually gone through the entire character creation/importing and playing process please describe what you do to get things running? for example, describe how exactly you bind the skeleton, which skeleton (filename) you use, and how you set things up in UnrealEd. thanks!
i don't think you'll get a complete answer on a forum, as there are a significant number of steps that need describing, but in brief:

1) skeleton source: i use a MEL script called CRunrealSkelBuilder.mel (google the name) but afaik it doesn't generate the most recent character bonesets (like Thundercrash), so it's a bit limited. apparently you already have a skeleton, so this step's covered. or you can build your own, but that's a lot more complex in most regards.

2) model the character -- again you've done that, but if working to an existing skeleton, it's probably better to build the model to the skeleton's orientation & scale (though this isn't an absolute necessity). you can always manipulate the model to fit after modeling.

3) skin (as in texture the surface of) the character -- way too complex for a forum post to explain this, better to use the web.

4) bind the model's polymesh (called a Skin in Maya, just to confuse things a bit ) to the skeleton. in Maya use Smooth Bind, and i recommend the Complete Skeleton & Closest Joint options, other settings may have to be tweaked for your character.

5) adjust the vertex binding values ("skin weights") of the model -- necessary because the default binding methods are never exactly right for every model and need to be tweaked for best performance. use Paint Skin Weights Tool or Component Editor.

6) animate the character -- for a fully custom model, or if you have any custom anims you want to append to a character that uses an existing Animation Set. use IK handles -- see Maya docs for info on this, also search the web. this step is optional. see the Maya 5 PLE help docs (Help>UT2004 Export, if the plugin has been set up correctly) for info about exporting animations using Character Sets and the Trax Editor.

7) export the character to UEd -- specific options depend on whether or not you're using exisiting or custom anims, or both, but use the Underscores to Spaces option (there's info on the web about why). if appropriate, apply exisiting mesh properties and Animation Set to your import in the UEd Animations browser. specify the model's Skins[n] property, tweak any other settings (like custom sequence animation rates).

8) save the model into a new .ukx (skeletal mesh animation) package -- as always , do not overwrite any stock Epic packages.

9) create a .upl file for your new character that specifies the new .ukx package. details about how to can be searched out. you probably will want a portrait image as well, so your model is seen in the player select menu.

10) play that sucker!

obviously the devil's in the details, which is why i said it's too complex for a forum post -- even a somewhat superficial answer is too long for this venue, and i likely left out a step 'cause i'm late for work as it is, but there you go.

some starting links that may be of help (but be prepared to adapt the info to your specific situation):

Unreal Wiki Maya PLE Character Model Tutorial (UT2003)
Intro to Game Model Skinning

Last edited by chip; 5th Nov 2004 at 09:10 AM.
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Old 5th Nov 2004, 04:31 PM   #14
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thanks to everyone who has commented on my project and posted advice, i think that i might be on the right track now and able to play my character very soon. im gonna just start the rigging from scratch and make my own custom skeleton, and then just follow the steps on the unrealWiki tutorial. Ill let you all know when megaman is finished, thanks again!

oh yes, and the model looks much better now, i tweaked it while waiting for all your responses. adios

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Old 6th Nov 2004, 03:58 PM   #15
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one more thing.. i havent layed out the UVs for my character yet. Does having/setting up the UVs affect the character mesh/animation setup, or are UVs not related to the problem im having?
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Old 8th Nov 2004, 10:09 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WorstPoolShark
one more thing.. i havent layed out the UVs for my character yet. Does having/setting up the UVs affect the character mesh/animation setup, or are UVs not related to the problem im having?
UVW mapping describes how a texture is applied to your model's surface, so no, it will not impact modeling, rigging and animation unless for some reason you edit the mesh to facilitate skinning. having to do this does happen on occasion, so it's probably better to skin your model before rigging and animating. this will also help you indentify any problems with texture stretching that arise from binding the model and animating it -- sometimes skin weights need adjusting to prevent unwanted texture effects, but you won't see this until the model's skinned.

an approach i'm using is to UVW map the model prior to rigging and animation, then applying a generic grid pattern texture that allows me to evaluate the UVW mapping metrics without doing the final skin painting. this usually identifies any issues with the modeling that may affect the skinning, so they can be fixed before rigging & animation.
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Old 8th Nov 2004, 11:24 PM   #17
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alright everyone... it works. HELL YES. the problem ended up having to do with the size of the skeleton when it imports, you CAN NOT alter the skeleton size, or rotation(presumably). I eventually ended up rotating my model so it was horizontal, and scaling it up so it was way HUGE to fit the skeleton. And when i exported to unrealEd, it WORKED. started off huge and sideways, but when i pasted thundercrash mesh properties it turned normal, and animated correctly. So, if anyone else is having this problem, now you know what to do. If u d/l'ed the same skele as i did, then leave it huge and sideways and instead fit your model to it, not vice versa like i was doing at first.
I believe it has to do with the tiny little camera that also imports with the skeleton; if you scroll a ways down (in Maya) below your imported skeleton, you will see a tiny but distinct "camera" thing pointed up at ur skeleton, and you cant move or alter this camera in any way that i know of. At first when i wrongly adjusted the skeleton to fit my mesh, this resulted in the camera being WAY far away from the "tiny" little model that the skeleton was skinned to. so when i put my character into unrealED, that was why after copying mesh properties he ended up so TINY. it was because that was the view distance from the camera to the grid+my character, it was very far away, and that distance carried over to the unreal animations browser. Plus the skeleton was not supposed to go that small, so the mesh got jacked up from it, like in the pics i posted. (lol.)
So anyways megaman now is truly only a few days away, and i also have PROTOMAN completed too, it was merely a simple adjustment of helmet and armor. thanks for all the help, and to the guy that pointed out that the skeleton size might be the issue, you were totally right. thanks again
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Old 9th Nov 2004, 06:58 AM   #18
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one of the key points about your experience is that the skeleton(s) you used are most often used for characters that use the stock characters' mesh properties and animation sets. as such, they "imitate" the way Max-originated skeletons work, as that iirc is the app used for the stock models. so if you're planning on using stock properties & animation, you should model around the skeleton, because you'll be applying properties based on that setup.

however, just to be clear, there are no such limits on a character with a completely custom boneset and animations, or using a stock skeleton but custom anims. in such cases the mesh properties and Animation Set would also be custom.
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Old 9th Nov 2004, 03:58 PM   #19
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one last thing guys, after ive layed out the UVs, how do i get it into Upaint to start the texturing?
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Old 9th Nov 2004, 04:54 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WorstPoolShark
one last thing guys, after ive layed out the UVs, how do i get it into Upaint to start the texturing?
you don't. UPaint requires a .psk file to work with, but that can't be produced with Maya PLE nor can UEd export that format. it's vaguely possible (but not guaranteed) that a complex workaround could be done using MilkShape's .psk export capability, but it really wouldn't be worth it in the long run imo. just paint your skin flats in a "traditional" 2D graphics editor (Photoshop, The Gimp, PSP, et al).

lots of tutes about this process within search-engine range, here's one to start with (uses Maya PLE examples):
Intro to Game Model Skinning
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